Friday, December 30, 2011

The semi-annual Queen's Feast: Charlotte Restaurant Week returns for its Winter 2012 edition, taking place Friday, January 20 through Sunday, January 29. The CRW website,, went live today with the updated info and there are a record 101 restaurants participating.

Charlotte Restaurant Week began in 2008 and since then has been held each January (winter) and July (summer). I remember the first time I blogged about it here on Grown People Talking was in the summer of 2009, in which was its third installment--it featured a then-record high 71 restaurants and also marked the first time it spanned 10 days. Clearly, CRW has grown—the last one featured 92 restaurants—and it's now solidified as a culinary tradition in the city.

It's the same deal you love: participating restaurants offering a prix fixe, three-course dinner for $30 per person (not including tax and gratuity). Many restaurants will throw in a fourth course or glass of wine for the deal.

Fern, Flavors from the Garden is one of a dozen first-time participants in restaurant week.

Restaurant owners love the promotion because it draws in diners during what is typically slow periods, and brings them a lot of first-time customers whom they hope will become regulars. And we, patrons, love it because it's a chance to enjoy a great meal and evening out at a reduced cost. Hensley Fontana Public Relations & Marketing, which owns and executes Charlotte Restaurant Week, reports that the summer edition in July 2011 generated approximately 90,000 dinners and an estimated economic impact of more than $4 million in revenue.

While nearly two-thirds of the participating restaurants are located in the Uptown, Dilworth, SouthPark, and south Charlotte areas—understandably so because those areas have the most restaurants period—the list spans the entire Charlotte area. The Lake Norman/North Mecklenburg/Iredell County section of the list has grown the most, now featuring 17 restaurants.

There are also a dozen first-time participants, including Bernardin’s at Ratcliffe in Uptown; Campania Cafe in Davidson; Fern, Flavors from the Garden in Plaza Midwood; Waldhorn Restaurant in Pineville; Yama Asian Fusion in SouthPark; Jeffrey’s Restaurant in Mooresville; Osso Restaurant & Lounge at N.C. Music Factory (opened just last week); La Paz in the Metropolitan; and several others.

Monday, December 26, 2011

It was a great turnout of celebrity support tonight for the Charlotte Bobcats' season-opening win at home against the Milwaukee Bucks. Among the big names in attendance at Time Warner Cable Arena in Uptown were New York Yankees star Derek Jeter and Carolina Panthers star rookie quarterback Cam Newton.

Stars align: Cam Newton sits next to Bobcats owner Michael Jordan at Monday's game. 
[photo via @McBeastie_]

I'm sure the Bobcats front office hopes that Cam will come out to home games all season. But I'm sure they--as well as plenty of Charlotteans--hope he doesn't make the same fashion faux pas again. Mr. Yes We Cam wore a Charlotte Hornets snapback hat to the game. I'm sure he did it more as a fashion statement and probably wanted to pay homage to Charlotte's sports history, but someone in his circle should bring him up to speed quickly about how the Hornets' legacy is still a touchy subject in Charlotte.

Even nine years after the Hornets relocated to New Orleans following then-owner George Shinn's ugly split with the city of Charlotte, and seven years after the Bobcats team was born thanks to the NBA granting the city a new franchise quickly, many locals still decry the lost of Charlotte's original NBA team. This includes some who were okay with the Hornets leaving, but wanted the name to stay so that the future franchise would've been called Charlotte Hornets again, similar to what happened with the Cleveland Browns in the NFL in the 1990s. Personally, I've always felt that the Bobcats--name and presence--have represented a fresh start that should be embraced, and it's good to see newcomers like Cam showing their support. Just don't wear anymore Hornets gear, buddy.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Technocom, a Charlotte-based office technology company, has created the "TechnoMakeover" initiative and will be donating a $50,000, fully customized technology facelift to a local nonprofit organization. And you can have your say as to which nonprofit you believe is most deserving.

Five finalists have been choosing from the process that began over the summer. Voting opened to the public last week and continues until January 15, 2012. Simply visit and vote for one of the following 2011 TechnoMakeover Finalists:
  • Hospitality House of Charlotte provides shelter to out-of-town families while loved ones receive treatment in nearby hospitals. During its history, Hospitality House of Charlotte has sheltered more than 40,000 guests from 49 states and more than 35 countries. 
  • Michael Scott Mater Foundation creates opportunities for budding entrepreneurs and existing small business owners by providing coaching, mentoring, technical assistance and microfinance. 
  • Crisis Assistance Ministry is the financial hub for Mecklenburg County to assist clients with their financial needs (rent, utilities, clothing, and furniture), helping them move toward self-sufficiency. 
  • Pennies 4 Hope Project transforms individuals and families through partnership in life skills and leadership development. P4HP contributes to the community through crisis provision of resources in food/nutrition, clothing, and pro-life support services with a goal toward self-sufficiency for marginalized families. 
  • With Open Eyes accelerates the sharing and teaching of the good news of Jesus Christ by providing reliable transportation and supplies to modern day apostles they call “Mobile Messengers” seeking access to the unreached and under-served peoples of the world. 
Get more details about each of the finalists, including a video of a representative from each organization describing the work they do and how winning the technology makeover would help them, by clicking here.

The Charlotte-area nonprofit selected for the TechnoMakeover will be announced on January 20. Technocom will work with the chosen organization to understand their office needs and will then bring in, introduce, and train the chosen nonprofit on an office technology package that will help it thrive. This package could include printers and print management, copiers and multi-function systems, mailing solutions, electronic filing and imaging, IT integration and security, and wide-format printing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Charlotte Chamber held its annual Economic Outlook Conference yesterday at Charlotte Convention Center. You can read The Charlotte Observer article, "CEOs see slow economic growth in 2012," to learn what executives from five of the country's largest businesses and the Federal Reserve had to say about the economy. I just wanted to share one of the Observer's photos here because it shows how much money was in the room yesterday, which you can see from the six esteemed gentlemen on the stage (each of the corporations they represent are either headquartered in Charlotte or have a large presence here). There were also numerous CEOs, presidents, and other top executives in attendance.

Pictured from left to right: Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; David Carroll, senior executive vice president of Wealth, Brokerage and Retirement Services for Wells Fargo; Brian T. Moynihan, president and CEO of Bank of America; Dan DiMicco, chairman and CEO of Nucor; Christopher Kearney, chairman and CEO of SPX; and Jim Rogers, chairman and CEO of Duke Energy. Photo by Jeff Willhelm/The Charlotte Observer. Click here to see full gallery.

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's a controversy that's been building for nearly two weeks now, but is one that could've ended a week ago had Lowe's simply admitted it made a mistake when it decided to pull its advertising from the TLC show All-American Muslim earlier this month. I'm sure you've seen at least some of the mountain of news coverage this issue has received.

Lowe's, which is headquartered in Mooresville and is the second-largest hardware store chain in the country (behind The Home Depot), continues to come under fire, with prominent people calling for boycotts of its stores. Music and fashion mogul Russell Simmons and his GlobalGrind site have been among the most vocal. Miss USA 2010, Rima Fakih, who is Muslim, has recently gotten on board as well. There were protests held in front of Lowe's Home Improvement stores around the country over the weekend, and a website,, has been set up.

Protesters rally outside of a Lowe's store in Maryland. [via]

On or around December 6, Lowe's made the decision to stop advertising on All-American Muslim, after being contacted by the Florida Family Association (click here to see original email of Lowe's response to the group). FFA had contacted several advertisers claiming: "The Learning Channel's new show All-American Muslim is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law. The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish."

Somehow, Lowe's didn't seem to see for itself that, perhaps for the first time in TV history, a show was being denounced for what it didn't include. Companies have been known to pull their advertising when TV shows feature too much violence, nudity, sex, profanity, or hate speech, for example. But FFA believes All-American Muslim is unfit for companies to be associated with it because "the show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks..."

When news began to spread a little over a week ago that Lowe's had pulled its ads, the company posted a statement on its Facebook page on December 10, saying: "It appears that we managed to step into a hotly contested debate with strong views from virtually every angle and perspective – social, political and otherwise – and we’ve managed to make some people very unhappy. We are sincerely sorry. We have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, across our workforce and our customers, and we’re proud of that longstanding commitment."

But Lowe's didn't say a whole lot in that statement--nor did it apologize for pulling the ads--and certainly didn't address if it would do anything differently. That Facebook post garnered more than 28,000 comments in four days, with many people saying they would never shop at Lowe's again, and some supporting Lowe's for its stance. But there were almost as many comments with hateful and racist language, prompting Lowe's to remove the entire post from its page. It replaced it Wednesday with a post asking users to "keep your comments on this Facebook page respectful..." and "Again, we offer our sincere apology to anyone offended by our advertising business decision or posts on this page." That post has received nearly 12,000 comments so far.

Lowe's is usually active on Facebook, posting several times a day about sales at its stores, but the status addressing the controversy has been its only post in the last 10 days. And on Twitter, where it typically tweeted five to ten times a day, there hasn't been a post since December 10. So Lowe's, whose spokespeople have said in news interviews that the company stands by its decision regarding All-American Muslim, has gone silent on social media. While social media--and traditional media--are severely harming the company's reputation.

All of this could've ended last week if Lowe's would've addressed the issue better. Big businesses never seem to want to give the impression that they're caving on anything or are being pressured to do something, which is why I guess Lowe's hasn't reversed its decision (for a month, Bank of America stubbornly stood by its announced plans to add a $5 monthly debit card fee, until the public backlash became too great). Meanwhile, it appears to most people that Lowe's caved to the pressure from Florida Family Association, which in recent days has been exposed to have misled companies about its actual pull, so to speak.

There's a great article yesterday by USA Today ("TLC show brings Muslims in America out in the open") on the fallout surrounding All-American Muslim. The newspaper also produced a video interview with two of the cast members from the show. This only makes Lowe's look worse when you see these people talk about their lives, which aren't much different from most of us.

My advice to Lowe's: Have your CEO come out and say that the company made a hasty decision that was prompted by a so-called family association without doing more research into whether concern was merited. And to prove that you want to turn this unfortunate fiasco into a learning experience, Lowe's would sponsor a forum on racial and religious tolerance. Two would be held: one in Dearborn, Michigan, where All-American Muslim is filmed and where 30 percent of the population is Arab-American; and one in Charlotte, which is near Lowe's headquarters, so company executives can take part, and is where there have been two well-publicized incidents recently of Muslims being singled out during flights to and from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (a lawsuit was filed today regarding the first incident).

Lowe's: imagine that this problem is a leaking pipe under the kitchen sink. If you continue to ignore it, it will only get worse.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

If you have teenage sons, nephews, brothers, or--equally important--are concerned about the environment in which so many of our kids are growing up, you should watch these two videos below.

You've likely seen the first one. It went viral in January, and shows an uncle beating his teenage nephew with a belt. The uncle was outraged that his nephew had been on Facebook glorifying and claiming to be in a gang. So in an attempt to discipline--and it's safe to say, embarrass--the kid, the elder recorded a minute-long video and forced his nephew to denounce gang activity. I, like millions of people, watched this video nearly a year ago when I saw it posted online. It was shared over several days on Facebook and other social media sites, sparking much debate as to whether the uncle had gone too far. Some commended the uncle for doing what he thought was necessary to keep his nephew from going down a dangerous path. Others believed the uncle should've handled it differently. And some even found the video funny.

Well, unfortunately, in this second video, this time a news clip, it tells how 16-year-old Michael Taylor was shot and killed last week outside of his home in Terrytown, Louisiana. Michael is the same kid who was in the viral video nearly a year ago being disciplined by his uncle. According to a story by news station WDSU, Michael's family believes his glorification of gang life, which apparently had continued, might have led to his death. Yesterday, police arrested a 21-year-old suspect in the killing.

Both videos are embedded below, with the older one first, and you should watch them in that order.

After our young people have been slain over senseless violence, it's too late to say you wish you would've done more. We need to acknowledge that this is happening far too often in predominantly black neighborhoods and schools, and not show a lack of concern if it isn't our kids or if we don't live in one of those neighborhoods.

We also need to stop condoning rap music and rappers who glorify gang life in their music, which has surged over the last few years. I've seen firsthand how kids will wear red bandannas (they call them flags) and holler "su woo" because Lil Wayne or Game does it. Those rappers will say that they aren't concerned about being role models and it's the parents' job to raise their kids. That's true, but that's also why I don't buy Lil Wayne or Game's CDs anymore. See how easy that is.

For Charlotte, below are a few organizations (click on the links) in which you can get involved to try to make a difference in a young boy's (or girl's) life, so hopefully he doesn't end up like Michael.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Watch Second Episode of '282'

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 12/13/2011 No comments
The new, local news roundup show 282 is still in beta mode as we've taped the second of four-planned online-only episodes. This week's episode features host Carlton Hargro, freelance journalist and Washington Post contributor Mary C. Curtis, Matthew Vincent of Hawthorne's New York Pizza & Bar, and Julie Sheffer from MeckEd. They discussed Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools winning national awards, the growth of locally owned restaurants, and the controversy and intrigue that surrounds County Commissioner Harold Cogdell Jr. (click here to read more about this week's episode). And I contributed my weekly commentary, a three-minute spiel titled "Fake It Till You Make It…Or Not."

You can watch the full episode below. And my segment begins around the 22:15 mark.

We'll tape two more online-only episodes in January before the show officially launches on WTVI January 30.

Monday, December 12, 2011

One of the things I enjoy most about covering Charlotte in my work as a freelance writer is the fact that I'm always learning something new and interesting, which I then try to convey to the reader. And, oftentimes, I learn more about something that I'd previously encountered. That's the case with Edison Nation, a Charlotte-based idea-to-shelf product development company I profiled in the December issue of Charlotte magazine: "Being Thomas Edison."

I wasn't aware of Edison Nation until earlier this year. I'd been familiar with its parent company, Enventys, and had actually visited Enventys' office in 2007 for the premiere party they held for the launch of Everyday Edisons TV show (Enventys, Edison Nation, Everyday Edisons, and Inventors Digest magazine are all now housed in that building on the edge of Uptown). You should definitely read my Charlotte magazine article (if you haven't already; the December issue has been on newsstands for about three weeks now) to see how Edison Nation was spawned, largely from the TV show, and how the company has helped inventors as well as ordinary people with good ideas get their ideas patented and developed into products you might have seen in stores or perhaps even own. Eggies, Emery Cat, Gyro Bowl, Mister Steamy, and Total Wrench, to name a few.

One of the reasons Edison Nation has become so successful is that it has created an online community for inventors, idea people, and entrepreneurs. members (it's free to join) from around the country communicate with each other daily in forums on the website.

The staff at Edison Nation also fosters interaction through social media sites and, in fact, is hosting a tweet chat this Tuesday, December 13 at 8 p.m. It'll be an hour-long, live chat session on Twitter to discuss important topics in the world of invention. You're invited to "Come ask and answer questions, meet new people, share resources or simply hang out with idea people just like you!" The hashtag for the Tuesday night session is #InventChat. Edison Nation plans to hold these tweet chats every second Tuesday of the month.

Also, to further illustrate how its idea-to-shelf process works, the company put out this video last week: Learn How Edison Nation Works!

Kemba's Kicks

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 12/12/2011 No comments
Now that the NBA lockout is over, the Charlotte Bobcats are getting back to the business of basketball. The team signed their top draft pick, guard Kemba Walker, over the weekend and I'm sure the former UConn star is happy and relieved that some NBA checks are on the way. I know it had to have been tight for rookies like Kemba who haven't been able to get paid by the teams that drafted them in June. But I'm sure a lottery pick like him didn't have to resort to Ramen noodles, thanks largely to the endorsement deal he signed with Under Armour in July.

It's an interesting fact that our city's top two rookies--Kemba from the Bobcats and quarterback Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers--both have endorsement deals with Under Armour. It would be great if UA put up a billboard in Uptown Charlotte of the two of them. Who knows, that probably would've happened by now had the NBA lockout ended sooner and not have caused any loss of games the way the NFL lockout was able to be resolved before preseason.

Because of the NBA lockout's long duration, it has sort of stifled a promotion Under Armour had planned for Kemba. The sportswear and apparel company was planning to commemorate the Bronx, New York native's homecoming, the scheduled December 10 game between the Bobcats and New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, by releasing a special color of his sneakers. A limited edition of the PE "Homecoming" UA Micro G Jukes were produced in white/silver/orange. But all is not lost, Under Armour is going to hold the promotion to coincide with Kemba and the Bobcats' January 4 visit to the Garden.

Under Armour released a previously shot promo video over the weekend, though it still refers to the original December 10 game.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I plan to put my Christmas tree up this weekend, which will be a week earlier than I did last year (*pats self on back*). So in my house, it'll begin to feel like Christmas. Where it already feels--and looks--like the holiday, however, is at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The second annual Carolina Christmas display, featuring more than 3 million lights, a Bethlehem Village with a live nativity scene, pony rides for kids and a petting zoo, local food vendors, and more, is open at the speedway through December 31. Click here to read my review at, which I wrote after visiting Carolina Christmas during its opening weekend.

Credit: Charlotte Motor Speedway

This Friday night, December 9, Carolina Christmas will feature an old-fashioned drive-in movie with a modern twist when it shows Polar Express on the world’s largest high-definition television screen at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The movie will begin at 8 p.m. and is included with regular admission to Carolina Christmas that night. Click here for more details on the movie night.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My latest gig as a freelance journalist is an exciting opportunity to work on a new, Charlotte-based television show called 282 (represents the first three digits of the city's zip code, by the way). This new venture is derived from a partnership between CLT Blog and WTVI (Charlotte's PBS affiliate), and it's a weekly, roundtable news show where media personalities will discuss hot topics prevalent in the Charlotte area. Former Creative Loafing Charlotte editor-in-chief Carlton Hargro is the host of the half-hour show, and my role is Andy Rooney-esque (but not so angry) in that I'll be contributing a three-minute-or-so editorial segment each episode about a current topic I happen to feel strongly about or that I think you will be interested in.

We taped the pilot, or first, episode of 282 at noon today at WTVI's studios, and it's now posted online. The show is in beta right now (so please pardon the flubs), and the first few episodes will run online only. After we've gotten some practice and worked out the kinks, 282 will begin airing weekly on WTVI on Mondays at 6:30 p.m., starting January 30, 2012 (WTVI is channel 42 on digital television a.k.a. regular TV, DirecTV, Dish Network, and AT&T U-verse; channel 5 on Time Warner Cable). And because it's important that the show has a strong web and social media presence (Twitter @282tv), beginning next Monday, December 12, we’ll be live-streaming the show online each Monday at noon at So you'll watch it as we tape it.

Below is today's episode, embedded from YouTube. Featured with Carlton are three guest panelists: freelance journalist Rhi Fionn-Bowman, restaurant/nightlife connoisseur Larken Egleston, and The Charlotte Observer columnist Mark Washburn. My segment begins at the 14:07 mark. "I'm on TV talking like it's just you and me."—Kanye West

Click here to learn more about 282 and the pilot episode, and expect to see the show grow, evolve, and get better over the next two months (an improved set—we hope—enhanced graphics, presentation, its own website, etc.; but the one thing that's already great is the opening theme music—love it). There are some talented people involved with 282 so I think it has the potential to be something you'll look forward to watching each week.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rev. Billy Graham Will Probably Outlive You

Posted by Jarvis Holliday On 12/04/2011 No comments
The Rev. Billy Graham is many things, but dead he is not. The 93-year-old Charlotte native, and one of the world's most famous evangelists, was admitted to an Asheville hospital last week with pneumonia. And while reports over the last couple of days were saying his condition is improving, WBTV mistakenly reported during its Saturday morning news show that Rev. Graham had died.

According to a statement by WBTV, Charlotte's CBS affiliate, the morning show producer read what he thought was a breaking news crawl on an off-air network feed about Rev. Graham. Without verifying it first, the news was given to anchor Kristen Miranda through her earpiece, who then announced that Rev. Graham had passed away. Fortunately, this wasn't true, and within 10 minutes WBTV made an on-air correction.

That didn't stop the station from getting phone calls and emails throughout the day, but they did the best they could to try to rectify the situation, including posting an apology on their website, Facebook page, and having anchor Sharon Smith address the mistake during the Saturday night newscast, which I happened to see. I'm sure all those involved in the production of the show will forever think twice before reporting breaking news without first verifying it.

The spiritual icon speaks to staff at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Charlotte last December.

Rev. Graham could live to 100 and beyond, but certainly at his age and the fact that he's had a couple of health scares in recent years, people are more likely to believe it if they hear he's passed away. Because the erroneous report was made early on a Saturday morning around 6:30 a.m., when most people are still sleeping, and the fact that WBTV corrected the mistake rather quickly, the misinformation didn't have long to spread. Had this happened in the afternoon, it would've become a trending topic on Twitter before it could've been retracted.

Now, it is actually common practice for major news outlets to pre-write celebrity obituaries for those famous people who are either very old or are living dangerous lifestyles in which the media believes could lead to their early demise ("Lindsay Lohan and the risks of 'pre-written' obituaries"). When it's done regarding elderly famous people, it can be a benefit such as was the case when Elizabeth Taylor died earlier this year. Within an hour of her death, national television news stations and websites were broadcasting and publishing in-depth reports about her death, which included only a little bit of details about when and how she actually died but more about her recent health problems and the legacy of her 50-plus-year career, which was clearly comprised of reports and footage they had on standby. But when it goes wrong, a celebrity becomes the latest to be "Murdered by the Media."
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